It’s been no secret that the beer and pubs industry has been calling on the Chancellor to outline concrete support for one of the UK’s most beloved and vibrant industries. Today, we can start to see some light at the end of the tunnel and welcome the Government’s support. But is it enough or should he have gone further?
April cannot come soon enough for pubs and hospitality business which are eager to finally welcome customers back through their doors to enjoy what they do best – great food, drink and welcoming hospitality.
Along with tourism, it has been the industry most severely decimated by the pandemic and we’ve sadly seen too many brewers and pubs already shutting their doors permanently, never to re-open. I am sure many Brits across the country today are eagerly counting down the days to when they can enjoy a refreshing pint of beer at their local pub, safely, as much as I am.
Today, I am pleased that the Chancellor has set out detailed plans to help get the hospitality and brewing sectors back into a mid-to-long term recovery mode. These plans go beyond the dates I am sure we all have circled on our calendar of the 12 April, 17 May and 21 June when lockdown measures are scheduled to be eased.
The extension to the reduction of VAT will help in the short term, but it won’t help our wet-led boozers as it doesn’t apply to beer. And many may feel short-changed, despite weathering the Covid storm and doing their best to follow cumbersome rules, such as the “substantial meal” for serving alcohol.
The freeze in alcohol-duty, something which Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company through the Long Live The Local campaign, had called for, is a welcome measure. But the Chancellor now needs to look at rebalancing the duty regime towards lower-strength products which, in the long-term, will help support brewing and pubs as vital domestic industries.
While the roadmap looks positive, both brewers and hospitality need solid reassurances that the Government is doing absolutely everything possible to bring our sector back to life, for that, we need to forge a strong path out of lockdown which will never again force British pubs to close.
The additional measures outlined to rejuvenate the Government’s support for the green-economy, such as increased business access to green-finance, are encouraging for the long-term growth of our industry.
As we fight to rebuild, we certainly want to do so even more sustainably. As a leading UK-business with breweries across the UK we are continuously focussed on how we can make our product and business more sustainable through our sustainability programme, Together Towards Zero, and I will be examining the measures announced today to see how we can ensure sustainability remains core to how we do business.
Is this the best the hospitality and pub industry could have hoped for from the Chancellor’s Budget? Probably, for now.
The road to recovery is still in front of us. We are by no means out of the woods yet and pubs and brewers have a long way to go to see business at the levels enjoyed pre-pandemic.
There are a number of levers the Chancellor still has at his disposal. Namely, we hope the Government will further review beer duty in the Alcohol Duty Review to support the beer and pubs industry and to bring us into line with other brewing nations. This type of support will remain vital to ensure as many businesses as possible are able to navigate their way out of the pandemic, so that the UK is soon back to seeing a thriving hospitality industry, job creation, investment and ultimately, enjoying our precious hospitality industry.